Monday, April 14, 2008

John Hauptman Speaks Again: Israel's Fascist Policies (John's last entry on this go around)

Israel's fascist policies

George Orwell never thought of this one. Take tens of billions of dollars that support failing military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and relabel it as "foreign aid." Very clever.

Mr. Bush's State Department even has a nice plot of this recent "foreign aid" spike (http://qesdb., but this newspeak does not fool anyone. Show us $20 billion worth of schools, clinics, roads, water or electric systems anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan. Show us anything. It is only one more deceit in a long string of simple-minded deceits that brought this nation to war.

This is how the Israel lobby and its 100,000 minions make the fractional support of the Israeli government look small: make the denominator big.

I read the Israeli press every day and there is no mystery here. The Israeli government, from the very beginning, has been expelling Palestinians from their homes, confiscating private property, killing defenseless civilians and engaging in continuous ethnic cleansing of the once peaceful inhabitants of Palestine. You can read about this in Ilan Pappe's book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine."

There are names for this. Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and 26 other prominent Americans called it "Nazi and fascist," specifically referring to the political party that now runs the Israeli government. Einstein was a refugee from Nazi Germany and he understood quite clearly what "Nazi" meant and what "fascist" meant, and he and many other brave Americans condemned Menachem Begin for his slaughter of hundreds of defenseless Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin. This was one of 530 peaceful villages wiped from the map and their residents forced into refugee camps. You can read this Dec. 4, 1948 letter to the New York Times by Googling Einstein NYT 1948.

Einstein forcefully condemned these crimes against humanity with a clarity reminiscent of his clarity in physics. We need another Einstein today, maybe 100 Einsteins.

I grew up in a time and a place where Judaism was revered, where Jews were heroes, and where most of the important books on ethics, physics, psychology and humanity on our shelves were written by European or American Jews. The name-calling, and the insinuated name-calling, is not working anymore. Only desperate people without an argument resort to this.

It is not an accident that almost all of my human rights heroes, from Einstein to Finkelstein, are Jews. Most of my heroes are still Israeli Jews, like Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Jeff Halper, Akiva Eldar and the many more who condemn the fascist policies of the current Israeli government. I think the Israeli government is anti-Semitic, not only because it is fascist, but also because it endangers Jews worldwide, all the while claiming to be defending Jews.

This lie is exposed by the millions of Jews who do not support this government and who condemn it as either "secular and without God" or as contrary to the centuries-old teachings of Judaism. The International Declaration of Human Rights, mostly written by Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe to be inspired almost in its totality by the centuries of persecution of Jews by European Christians.

It is a historic mistake to use this holocaust to justify another holocaust, this time of the Semitic Palestinians who had nothing to do with European Christians.

The historian Jane Haddam famously wrote: "People always seemed to know half of history, and to get it confused with the other half." This is the essential problem, not only in Israel/Palestine, but also Iraq, Kashmir, Rwanda, Congo, etc., where historic mistakes were made by European Empires, and now the United States is stepping into the same trap, and making more mistakes of its own.

We have a Republican candidate for President who still repeatedly confuses Shia with Sunni, and Iran with al-Qaeda. It leaves me speechless.

The wars in the Islamic countries of what we call the Middle East will be over when we respect Human Rights and International Law, as Albert Einstein insisted. They will be over and Osama bin Laden will be helpless when we treat the Palestinians as human beings, rather than the "dogs" that Moise Dayan called them. It is that simple. And, it is our choice.

Anis Nin Nudges Us Toward Our Better Selves - My Final Piece in This Discussion

To the Editor, Ames Tribune:
From Betsy Mayfield

I have a picture of a lovely free-spirit from the past, Anis Nin, over my desk along with a comment she made. Said Nin, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” That statement is what I think of those who attempt to discredit writers who speak out on behalf of the Palestinian people or who dare to question the violent and terrorizing practices of the Israeli government that I, for one, see as immoral, unjust and plainly not in the best interest of peace including peace for Israelis. Were I in Israel, I could say this in the newspaper, Haaretz, and not be nearly as beset with animosity as I am in Ames, Iowa. For goodness sake, can we not tear ourselves away from nightly trivia about our presidential candidates long enough to find out what’s actually happening in our names all over the world?

I see the slander, the name calling, the slippery slope rebuttal as what those who do the speaking are. In the same way, my writing reflects what and who I am. The name calling has become so pervasive, especially the anti-Semite reference that it renders itself irrelevant. Worse it makes the term something people ignore even though the problem does, indeed, exist and needs our attention. I no long even blink when someone hurls that epithet at me. Those here in America who join me to insist on human rights for Palestinians and recognition of Arab humanity get the same slurs slung at them, even if, and probably more so, if they happen to be Jewish themselves. I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that this is the price of our activism. If anything, slurs against me or those who share my views make me want to speak out even more. When a critic chooses to throw querulous invectives at me, the remarks simply provide me with incentive.

A few days ago, I got a one-line email from the only family I actually know in Gaza saying, “Nothing has changed; we’re starving.” Another article complained that America is giving $6 million a day to Israel. Some say we give more; others less. Doesn’t matter. To me, whatever it is, it’s too much. I’m all for aid to developing countries; I am not for aid to abusive second world countries. I want my friends in Gaza to have a reasonably safe life like we do in Ames, Iowa. I want to encourage Americans to think about the aid our country continues to feed into Israel (and Egypt, too, for that matter) while ignoring the needs of people here on our own doorsteps. It's worse when countries we fund will not allow peace and bask in an endless show of arrogant power. We’ve become like the aging parent who supports a kid who won’t get off the couch even though he’s 60-years old. That the old bugger is nasty to his Mom, no matter; that he shuns his care giver, too bad. For goodness sake, are we blind?

There’s a blog on google from a person called Hope Man who lives in Sderot, where the Gazan missiles tend to land, and a person from Gaza who calls himself Peace Man. The Jewish blogger from Sderot wrote, “Our understanding that we cannot wait for our leaders to solve our problems for us and that if any change is to happen it will happen from us, the civilians. We, citizens of Gaza, Sderot and people all over the world desperately call you, our leaders and decision makers, to completely cease fire immediately.” For goodness sake, are we deaf? I’m all for Hope Man and Peace Man. It would be nice to be able to turn my attention elsewhere.

Use the Right Information: Another Rebuttal to John Hauptman and Me

Use the right information
To the Editor, Ames Tribune
BY: James Eaves-Johnson

It requires extreme bias to read a piece that provides the primary source (USAID, the agency that administers U.S. foreign assistance - both loans and grants) and Web site ( for the facts on U.S. aid to Israel, and completely ignore it.

Instead, a recent letter to the editor cites some generic "State Department" source providing "recent" data ("U.S. aid to Israel pays for crimes" 03/30/2008).

In checking the facts with USAID, we learn they are, at a minimum, stale numbers. USAID maintains "Program Reports" which give the last four years of data in cross-country reports - the numbers cited cannot be found there. However, if you dig into the "Country Reports," USAID provides individual country data spanning many years.

If you look back to 1998, you can find that Israel received the $1.2 billion economic aid and $1.8 billion military aid, which was cited as the "recent" figure. However, the loans that are added to these numbers are already included. Moreover, the total U.S. foreign aid number is for 2002 and not 1998. In short, the letter provides a hodgepodge of poorly assembled data spanning multiple years that include double-counted figures. These facts could have been checked easily.

If we look at the most recent USAID data available, we discover a far more complex reality that does not affirm his Israel-bashing predispositions. In 2006, Israel received "Total Economic & Military Assistance" (the highest level roll-up of foreign assistance) of $2.6 billion or 6.64 percent of the total $39.0 billion U.S. aid budget. As I noted previously in The Tribune, much of this aid arises out of parallel obligations to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Aid to those nations totaled $2.5 billion in 2006, or 6.37 percent of the U.S. aid total.

Moreover, Iraq received $9.8 billion and Afghanistan received $3.7 billion in foreign aid in 2006 (25.26 percent and 9.58 percent of total aid, respectively). None of those numbers include the many billions spent and lives lost directly securing those countries with U.S. military forces. Those costs dwarf aid to Israel and its neighbors.

What is most shocking about all of this is that only Israel draws the letter's ire. Israel indisputably meets far higher standards of human rights and liberal values in comparison to these other countries. And yet, the letter apparently has no problem with the far greater abuses of individual rights subsidized by the U.S. in those countries.

Jordan and Egypt have used far harsher techniques against their Palestinian Arab opponents than Israel ever has. And yet, the letter is eerily silent in defending the victims of those crimes and is critical only when a Jew, or a state with a Jewish majority, can be accused of the crime. There is a word for people who make these kinds of biased accusations.

If anything, U.S. aid to Israel, as well as other countries in the region and the world, should be greater. A more secure Israel can bring peace. A more prosperous Arab world can bring peace. American money can help promote security, liberalism and prosperity world wide. A safe and prosperous world is a world that is good for America.

Israel is a major trade partner of the U.S. and has created many of the technological advancements, goods and services that make American's daily lives better. Israel buys American goods and services at very high rates, providing America with an important export market.

In promoting liberalism and security globally, we can advance our interests while redeeming the world. Rather than picking on a tiny nation with a Jewish majority, perhaps we should be more broadly focused on supporting freedom and liberalism throughout the Middle East and everywhere else.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


One-sided hate
By Joseph P. Mancuso

To the Editor

I am tired of reading about the one-sided hate for Israel and Jews that people submit in letters to the editor of The Tribune. These so-called arguments of "facts" are nothing but the same old anti-Semitic hate mongering of the past.It frightens me to think that kind of blind hatred still exists in Ames. Apparently some of this virulent disease thrives in Ames. Be careful, it's contagious. What group is next?

Joseph P. Mancuso
U.S. aid to Israel pays for crimes, by John Hauptman Ames Tribune 03/30/2008
To the Editor:

"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics" wrote Mark Twain, and every statistician knows you can get more-or-less any number you want by a careful selection of samples. This is the case in the discussion of the fraction of all U.S. foreign aid going to Israel, Mayfield (March 12) claiming 30 percent and Eaves-Johnson (March 20) claiming 10 percent.

Recent direct average annual aid-to-Israel is $1.2 billion economic and $1.8 billion military, for $3 billion out of $20.4 billion total U.S. foreign aid, or 14.7 percent. But, Israel also receives about $2 billion in loans, which by implication must be repaid with interest, but these loans never have been repaid and routinely are converted to "grants" thereby becoming direct aid. Adding these loans increases the aid to 24.5 percent. These numbers are from the State Department.

In addition, Israel collects all the funds at the beginning of the year, unlike all other countries receiving U.S. aid, with the consequent benefit of interest, raising total aid to $5.4 billion, or 26.5 percent. Finally, Israel has negotiated that the U.S. is required to supply Israel with all its oil needs, regardless of price or availability, and that the U.S. DoD must buy a certain fraction of Israeli military equipment. These are also aid. I believe the effective total is actually more than 30 percent. In fact, we Americans who pay taxes may never know how much goes to Israel.

As a consequence, Israel is now a major arms exporter, and it was recently found out that Israel has sold sensitive U.S. weapons systems to China in violation of U.S. law.

The core problem is much worse. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe recently published "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" (2007,, ISBN 1851684670) based on newly acquired military and political archives in Tel Aviv, including the personal diaries and personal letters of the early Zionists who bragged about the destruction of 530 Palestinian villages.

Relentlessly, from 1947 through the beginning of 1949, Israeli commandos would enter a village at night, bomb a few homes, round up men and boys over 12, execute a few in the public square, take the rest out for summary execution, and tell the women and old men to walk to Lebanon, Jordan or the desert.

The Palestinians call this the "Nakba," or "The Catastrophe." Ben Gurion publicly proclaimed an "existential threat", but privately was worried because the Palestinians put up no resistance, providing no excuse for their massacre. The killing continues even today; the Palestinian dead and wounded in the West Bank number about 100 per week.

These are full-fledged crimes against humanity, and that is why the aid numbers matter: we Americans are paying for these crimes, by the tens of billions over many years.


To the Editor

Betsy Mayfield's rhetoric (Shall we abandon hope? 3/12/08) really deserves no response. However, the editors of The Tribune found it fit to print, and so a reply appears to be required.

Mayfield's borderline anti-Semitism should ward people away from her views. If not, they can easily verify, with original sources, that she is willing to use false facts in support of her assertions. Mayfield says, "The United States gives 30 percent of its foreign aid to Israel." Wrong. USAID publishes its statistics at Israel receives substantial aid - principally out of comparable obligations to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. But, in the last three years on record, Israel's aid has not exceeded 10 percent of total U.S. foreign aid.

People can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic. But, if one is going to malign Jews and Israel as aggressively as Mayfield does, she should at least check the facts.

James Eaves-Johnson
Leader of courage, strength needed

To the Editor

Betsy Mayfield's anti-Israel diatribe begins with selected "facts" and concludes that if Israel were left to the fate desired by Hamas and Hezbollah, that justice and morality would be served.

Mayfield, apparently, would like to see the "imbalance of deaths" corrected, apparently by increasing the number of deaths on the Israeli side to match or exceed those on the Palestinian side. Of course, that is exactly what would happen if Israel's military and public resolve were less strong, just as would happen in the U.S. if our military and public resolve were less strong in defending us against enemies, past and present.

War is hell. We all recognize and accept that. Peace is certainly preferable.

As to the accusation of Israel being a "religious" state, Israel is no more a religious state than is England, which has the Church of England as its national religion and certainly much less so that Saudi Arabia and some of the other Arab and predominantly Islamic countries. Israel is, in fact, a muti-ethnic democracy with more than 1 million Arab citizens, and a population that originally came from throughout the Middle East, eastern and western Europe, Africa and elsewhere.

Yes, it gives those of Jewish ethnic background (religious or not) the "right of return" to the area of origin of the Jewish people, but that influx from the diaspora included Jews from Arab, Persian (Iranian), Indian, Chinese, African and virtually all European countries.

In considering the source of the conflict that continues there, consideration of the facts, left out of Ms. Mayfield's commentary, requires acknowledging that it was the Arab nations that declared war on Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 with no peace in between those specific conflicts. Gaza was occupied by Egypt, which did not grant citizenship to that population, and the West Bank was occupied by Jordan in the first of those wars.

And it was only late in the history of more than 50 years of attacks by Arab entities on Israel and the Jewish population of first Ottoman and then British mandate Palestine that a particularly brave Arab statesman, Anwar Sadat said, "enough killing," and agreed to a formal peace settlement with Israel. This was followed by a similar agreement to the formal end of hostilities with Jordan.

Sadat literally gave his life for that settlement, having been murdered by a countryman representing the same radical element of Arab citizenry that cheered in the street at the recent murder of the Israeli students and missile strikes on Israel sent by Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf war.

There will be peace and justice in Israel and Palestine when another leader of the courage and strength of Anwar Sadat arises among the Palestinians who, in a similar manner to Sadat's bravery and vision, says "enough, no more killing" and agrees to a peaceful settlement that will benefit all of the peoples of that troubled region.

Miles Weinberger